The One Thing You Shouldn't Do With Your Pillow When You Sleep

We may be too old to have a security blanket, but sometimes it feels like our pillows can give us the same reassuring softness and support we crave right before we shut our eyes at night. We become attached to the pillows we rest our heads on nightly. Which is why it came as a surprise when we found out via NBC that it would be smart to change out our pillows for new ones every one to two years.

"Pillows lose their loft over time, especially if you don't wash them regularly," Ann Romaker, a professor of medicine and director of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center Sleep Medicine Center, tells LiveStrong. "As they flatten, they offer less neck support, which can lead to neck, shoulder and upper back pain."

No thank you to shoulder and upper back pain. In addition to finding out how often we should be changing our precious security blankets, er um pillows, we would also like to share another way your pillow can affect your health if you are using it wrong.

Keep the four corners of your pillow separate from each other

According to Livestrong, if you often roll or fold your lumpy yet faithful pillow in half to give it more height, then consider stopping this habit immediately, and here's why. "It can cause your chin to tilt down toward your throat, cutting off your air supply," Dr. Romaker says. "It can also make your mouth drop open, which heightens your risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and gingivitis."

Who would have thought the way we use our pillows could affect our oral hygiene! If height is what you seek, then Harvard Health Publishing shares that a wedge pillow may be what you need. "Among lifestyle changes, elevating the head to 30 degrees can be effective. I've had success with patients using a wedge pillow," says Dr. James Mojica, the sleep lab director at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Pillows are an object of personal preference. And considering how much time you actually spend using them, it may be wise to stop risking your health by folding the one you have in half. It may be time to invest in one that will make you feel like you've woken up on the right side of the bed, no matter what side you are on.